Throughout the years, I’ve seen too many clients waste valuable time and money on “opportunities” or training that got them no closer to the job they wanted. Sometimes they were promised the moon and ended up instead with a handful of mud. Other times, they weren’t directly promised anything, but they didn't ask the right questions and made incorrect assumptions that these opportunities would get them closer to their goals.
Now, you might think this is just another warning against the blatant scam artist who makes outrageous claims, takes your money, doesn't deliver and then somehow disappears off the face of the earth. Unfortunately those people are out there, and it can be easy to get cheated by those scams if you're desperate to find the answer to your unemployment problems. So, of course, you'll want to be on your guard and protect yourself from those situations.
However, you also need to look out for situations that present a more subtle kind of bias that might be harder to spot. For example, it could happen when:
- An instructor, who needs to fill his class, encourages you to sign up for a program in a field that has a very limited local job market.
- Your friend encourages you to join the multi-level marketing (MLM) program that she's involved with. While it might actually be a good opportunity for you to work from home, remember, she'll get a cut of your sales, so she might not be giving you a completely unbiased account of her experiences with the company.
- A counselor at a school encourages you to pay for an expensive training program that will help you to develop some marketable skills, but she fails to mention that the same training is available elsewhere in your community for a much more reasonable price.
Unfortunately, I've heard all of those stories from clients. I wouldn't call the people in those situations scam artists, but they do have biases or motives that are separate from your own best interests. In fact, whether it's money to be made or intake targets to reach, most people you deal with will have some kind of bias. So it's up to you to see the information objectively, cut through the hype, and determine whether the opportunity you're considering will be a good fit for your needs.
You can make good decisions by:
Asking a lot of questions
Don't assume anything. Find out about earning potential, other similar options that are available in your area, success rates of others involved in the same program, and any other information that you would use as a measure of success.
Requiring straight answers
Don't let people talk around your questions. If you feel you haven't been given a straight answer, ask the question again. Ask for statistics or other proof of success. Don't be shy. This is your future and your career that you're considering.
We all want to believe that we can build a six figure income with very little effort. Solid careers or businesses require solid effort. If I was presented a so-called "opportunity" to make big money with no time and effort on my part, I'd run the other way. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true.
Talking to someone who's not biased
Look for people who work in a similar industry, but are not involved with the organization you're dealing with. Find someone who has nothing to gain or lose by giving you more information and ask them plenty of questions.
As you seek out career opportunities to help you through this period of unemployment you'll find plenty of possibilities. Some will be a good fit for your needs, others will be not. Understand the bias that others may have and you will be better equipped to make career decisions that are in your own best interests.